Online content marketing can be tricky. Blogging for business, blogging for personal use- it doesn’t matter, sometimes blogging can get the best of you. One of the most common tasks I am asked to perform for businesses, startups and freelancers alike is to take a look at a blog and see why it isn’t working.
So without further ado, here’s how you can get an off-track blog following orders again. I hope it helps to get your online content marketing under control again.
Defining what you mean by “my blog doesn’t work”
The two main issues I see with a blog that has been declared off track are:
- The blog isn’t performing in terms of getting views, comments, social media shares etc and in turn isn’t translating into sales, community connection and tangible responses
- The blogger has run out of steam and has lost the ability to find interesting topics to write about
These two problems are very common, so if you are suffering from either of them, don’t feel bad. They also have the same fix because essentially, they’re the same issue.
And the solution to the problem is proper planning.
I know this may make me sound like a kill-joy that’s interfering with your inner writer, but honestly, all the best writers have a plan and roadmap to follow when they create. And you need it in blogging, too. Any form of online content marketing or indeed a continued story of any kind needs a framework in order to prosper and grow.
Blogging based on what you feel like writing will only get you so far. There are plenty of bloggers out there who begin with the mandate of sharing their story online who end up stalling or boring their audience to pieces because they’ve forgotten the most critical reason for starting a blog in the first place; to share wisdom and stories in order to educate and entertain others.
How do I break the habit of blogging for me and invite the customer instead?
The first step to making your blog more about your audience and less an online diary (no matter the circumstance), is taking a critical look at what works and what doesn’t.
And that involves spending some time in Google Analytics and working out:
- What people are choosing to click through to read (so hits to specific pages and posts)
- Whether they click away because it’s irrelevant or boring (high, quick abandon rates)
- How spot on your content is through social endorsement and comments (you can find this via your social media plugin that facilitates sharing such as Shareaholic)
- Why they ended up on that particular blog (so the keywords that send readers to your blog)
Google Analytics helps inform you on areas of improvement so that you can maximise your online content marketing endeavours and work out your blog’s direction.
But the bottom line is if people aren’t reading what you write, you need to fix that.
How do I fix a blog that is mainly about me?
Kate Toon has written a really helpful post on how to deal with out-dated content or irrelevant posts on your blog without stuffing up the SEO juice, so I won’t be repeating that lesson.
How do I avoid starting a blog or continuing with a blog that is too me-centric?
Remember that planning stuff I mentioned before? That’s where it comes in. And it begins (and stays on track) by making use of a content plan. A large part of my content plan is about looking at your audience and incorporating the Buying Cycle that suits.
Incorporating a Buying Cycle
On a content level, you need to look at the Buying Cycle and see what kinds of information people need to successfully get to know you and want to hire you, read your stuff, buy from you or simply interact.
People are at various stages of their journey with you. They don’t always go through the same order, but they do need a little bit of a push. As consumers (and media sceptics) it takes an estimated 6 times of viewing a particular marketing message or interest sparking engagement with a media source before eventually taking the plunge.
And that plunge could be anything from contacting to find out more through to purchasing something from you. We research, monitor, investigate and examine content marketing to see if it is applicable and trustworthy.
So you content should always support these aims. Let’s take a look at the Buying Cycle from a blogging for business perspective.
The Buying Cycle breakdown
- Awareness and education- your customer is trying to figure out what solves their problem and may not even have a clue it is what options are available
- Info search – Now they know a type of solution is available, they are using that knowledge to look for potential suppliers to fix their problem
- Supplier Identification- you’ve been identified as part of that process- so what makes you better or more appealing?
- Purchase decision- Maybe your customer has been floating around for a little while and keeps tossing backwards and forth, but now the need is greater so things become a little more in depth and money starts being a consideration
- Competitor testing- they may call or email, visit the store and dig that final bit deeper and find out why you are the one they should choose, or it will come from further research they’ve done. By this stage, they know what they are on about
- Show me the money- they are ready to buy and they want you or your competitor so you better be prepared to play along
It’s your job to write topics that match these various stages of discovery so that you meet that thirst for information.
So for example, if I were to look at my job as a blogger for small businesses and want to attract new customers who would like their content planned or blogging done for them, I would include topics such as:
- 5 ways to meet new customers online
- Do customers really trust content marketing?
- Blogging for business: Is it worth the effort?
- How blogging for business helps your Google rankings
- Why content marketing is more than SEO
- A case study on how my blogging helped a business succeed
These are very simple and straight ahead topics. You can tell from my blog that my headings are a little more creative and controversial at times. But the basic principle is there. I want you to hit my blog, see that I know my content marketing and blogging, and hire me to help you build a strategy so you can do the same for your business.
Of course, what I offer as a paid service is a little more involved. But using this post will give you an idea of how to proceed towards a proper roadmap for your blog.
If your blog is off-track, you can put it right again by instituting a Buying Cycle before you run through Kate’s review to modify any previous posts to be more in-line with your intentions. You can also obviously use it as a framework to produce new blogs.
Practise makes perfect. It’s also OK to deviate from the plan and newsjack or take on rants. But whatever you do does need to curl back to what the customer needs again and again to be truly effective.
What if my blog navigation is a bit tricky?
If your blog is hard to navigate, it’s difficult to connect with your story. Customers and readers want a connection. We want to enjoy content that feels connected and has a serial pattern to it. Style Guides help- so you should check out my DIY blogging style guide for some tips in that area as well.
Beyond style, your audience wants to do is easily find content they care about.
Have a look at my website in relation to the blog:
- I make categories prominent
- Because my business blogging gets me more work, I make it, not me, a centrepiece on the landing page
- I have suggested extra content at each post so people can continue reading
- I make it easy for people to comment and share my blogs on social media
- I often cut longer blogs into parts
I do this because my content gets me work and opportunities. It demonstrates to companies that I know my line of work well. And yes, it helps with SEO too because it reminds me to mention those topics within the blogs I write.
How I have my blog positioned isn’t what other usually freelancers do. They prefer to take a “this is me and how I can do some SEO copywriting for you” approach.
I don’t suggest my way for everyone because dealing with a static landing page in SEO is simpler, and some clients really care about connecting with a friendly-faced freelancer who will do the work. They want to see a smiley face and a wonderful video.
Me, I rarely trust that approach to marketing (reminds me a little too much of American Psycho and Infomercials for some reason), so I prefer to let my writing do the talking.
Being a wordy know-it-all helps sell me. Customers to my business often say they’ve read my blog and social media for a while. And any new discovery leads are usually pretty impressed with the volume of work I have on the site and the level of information provided.
And that’s why I keep the blog as a prominent focus.
It’s up to you to not only present the information, but also entice that reader to trust you by demonstrating a position of authority.
In summary, an off-track blog needs a little hard work
If you’re committed to making a change and using blogging as a way to make money, whether that’s directly as an author who sells advertising and books or in a blogging for business format, you have to do some homework to get a blog back to where it needs to go.
To get your blogging under control:
- Look at your reporting
- Give your blog a spring clean
- Setup a structure via the Buying Cycle
- Design your blog to encourage readers to stay and return
- Incorporate a style guide
And most importantly, put your customer at the centre of the blogging experience. I hope this post has helped rein that pesky blog in.
If you need more assistance, why not set up a marketing coaching call to discuss your specific issues or commission me to put together a content plan for you to follow?